Wednesday, October 27, 2010

UK Scriptwriters Podcast, Episode 4

As the London Screenwriters Festival looms, and everyone prepares to work their networking mojo to the max, me and Tim have done a special podcast about ways to be proactive and how to raise your profile as a writer. Plus there's reviews of new TV drama The Event and Aaron Sorkin's The Social Network. Podcast is half hour long, so why not give it a whirl. You can listen direct below, or via the main site, or iTunes, all the usual outlets. All comments/feedback welcome. Thanks!

In other news, CBBC's Roy has been nominated for two BAFTAs! One for Best Children's Drama (wahey!) and one for Best Writer for lead writer Paul Smith (woohoo!). Huge congratulations to JAM Media and the team; I'm so pleased and proud to have been part of the show (special shout-out to script editor Alan Keane for making it a very special experience). Roy is currently on BBC2, Saturdays, 11am. It's a really warm and funny show, so check it out if you can. My episode, On The Run, is on in a few weeks!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rewatch, Rewind

Earlier this year, the inimitable Piers Beckley tagged me in a meme, asking 'what films do you watch again and again?' Well, I clean forgot about the meme until Piers gave me a polite poke recently (which I very much enjoyed, fnaarr). So, here's my mini-list of obvious choices combined with some guilty pleasures from the 80s era. I thang-ew.

Superman (original). On its release, I was at the impressionable age to be suitably awed and inspired. It was a big thrill to work with Gareth Tandy on Origin, who worked on the original Superman as assistant director. Wowza!

Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I saw this in Cork as a way to kill time before I got the train home to Cobh. I then pestered EVERYONE to see it once it reached The Great Island.

Weird Science. "He don't even have a license, Lisa!" Sure, it's a bit childish but it's still quality Hughes, and I love it.

Class. Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy and Jacqueline Bisset in early 80s indulgence, with John Cusack & Virginia Madsen in early roles. What's not to like??

The Thing. Surprising, suspenseful masterpiece. "It's weird and pissed off, whatever it is."

Don't Look Now. Saw it on late-night TV when I was a teenager and had no idea what it was about. Heavily traumatised afterwards.

The Godfather. Apart from its obvious brilliance, it was the first film to enlighten me on the value of character-driven narrative, and still continues to do so.

Trading Places. So much about this shouldn't work at all but it's just pitch perfect all the way.

Mannequin. Kim Cattrall as a mannequin who comes to life! Andrew McCarthy as the guy who gets his way with her! Hmm, I should probably stop this list now, yes? (but hey, there's a clever backstory of WHY she's a mannequin, so THERE!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Screenwriters Festival

The London Screenwriters' Festival is nearly upon us. The line-up and speakers are now complete, and it looks like it will be a cracking event; lots to do, lots of networking opportunities. The tickets are nearly sold out so if you were planning on going, best book your ticket asap. Remember, you can get £37 discount on the ticket price by using the discount code dannystack.

See you at the festival!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lessons Learned

On my run down of making Origin, someone commented that although I said I had learned a lot, I didn't share this new found wisdom on the blog. I thought it was apparent through the various posts and reportage but to recap, here's wot I learnt abowt the filmmakingz:

A director is only as good as the cast & crew behind him, more notably line-producer, 1st AD & DOP.

As writer/director, you know a lot about the story and the characters, but you don't know everything (e.g listen to what the actors have to say).

Shooting on film is expensive but rewarding, not just for you but for cast & crew, too (actors like the buzz, crew raise their game).

Regardless of cost of shooting on film, a lot of the budget went on things you don't see on screen, like transport, food, equipment, petty cash and insurance.

Your personal life goes out the window. Plus, if you're funding the project out of your own pocket, you experience a whole new stratosphere of stress. Producers, I salute you!

Music and sound are vital. Get experts in both fields.

I loved directing and felt very comfortable doing it. I want to direct again. I should direct again. (Am working on it.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Origin, video diary

Here's a quick video diary from the making of Origin (Associate Producers & Special Thanks peeps got access to these diaries for their generous donations to the film). In the clip, it's the last day of the shoot and I'm about to film the story's big emotional scene.

Video Diary No 6 from Danny Stack on Vimeo.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Origin after Raindance

Well, that was fun! Thankfully, no signs of the stress and nerves that made up the cast & crew screening in July. Instead, just a sense of excitement of watching the film with an audience who had no attachment to the project whatsoever. The film played as part of a programme called 'Absent Sense', presumably a theme to indicate that the stories didn't necessarily explain things or come to a rounded conclusion. And as the films started to screen, it was clear that this was indeed the case.

First up was Latitude Chase, which was 35 seconds of a child running through the hubbub of the Latitude Festival (shot on an iPhone) before arriving at her tent and being told to go to bed. Inexplicably winsome!

I think Sign Language was next, a film about a guy's last day as someone who holds those street signs on Oxford Street. Really sweet and emotive, and not surprising that it won this year's Virgin Media Shorts (you can watch the film via that link). Nice.

Then came Missed Connections, about a lovelorn guy who decides to respond to the 'missed connections' column in the newspaper in an attempt to meet women. Good idea, and some nice acting/dialogue, but it could have done with some judicious editing to make it a tad shorter, in my humble opinion. 22 minutes long!

Red Shoes saw Beth Winslet walk through the woods with an unsuitable pair of red shoes that catch the eye of a sinister creature who remains hidden in the thicket. Some enjoyable moments here and nicely shot.

Bad Call was about a guy who suspects his girlfriend of having an affair and goes to confront her lover with murderous intent. Really enjoyed this one. No dialogue, lots of creative visuals and filming techniques. Fast-paced and effectively done.

Meet Pursuit Delange starred James Callis (from Battlestar Galactica) as a hapless media type who can't seem to do anything right. Very funny performances, quite enjoyable, and felt like it was a pilot for a series.

Popping Round was about two girls having a catfight over the same bloke, which was playful and fun.

Origin played 7th out of the 10 short films on offer. Some people had left by this stage. I think short film programmes should be an hour, max. Anything more than that stretches people's patience, I think. Still, the film seemed to go down well. My heart rate was easily beating double but it looked great on the big screen, and in glorious HDCAM projection.

Next, Stalker, a short about a guy who finally realises he's being followed by an emotionally unhinged woman. Really good performances and direction, amusing and dramatic, and left you wanting more.

The final film was Interlude, a film about two swimmers who don't acknowledge each other but both fantasise about more intimate interaction once they're underwater. Lovely underwater sequence, a playful score, and had a relaxing effect!

To the bar then for some swift pints with Piers, Tom, Ben and Jo. Quick chat with the guys who did Stalker, then off home for the train. You can see a similar review of last night's screening at this site, where Origin is described as 'clever and understated'.

Really nice night, great to see the film 'out there' and hopefully this is the beginning of many a festival. I'll keep you posted, natch.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Origin at Raindance!

Tomorrow, Thursday 7th October, 4.30pm at Apollo Cinema, in London's glittering West End.

Origin is playing as part of Raindance's 'Absent Sense' programme where there will be 9 other shorts for your viewing pleasure. Full info and details here. If you fancy coming along, you can book tickets here.

Getting into Raindance is a big deal so I'm very excited about the screening. Here's the trailer to whet your appetite (plus there's a sneak preview clip at the bottom of the post!).

I filmed Origin last year but only recently finished post-production due to low-no funds, relying on a lot of favours and professional goodwill. It's truly been an emotional, educational and thrilling experience, and I'm so glad I did it.

If you're unfamiliar with the project, you can read all about making the film in the posts below. I managed to raise £3k towards production thanks to the generous readers of this blog, so big up to those who deserve their Associate Producers, Special Thanks & Thanks credits, also listed below.

ORIGIN Production Diary, Day 1
ORIGIN Production Diary, Day 2
ORIGIN Production Diary, Day 3
ORIGIN Production Diary, Day 4
ORIGIN Cast & Crew


Rosie Jones, Marie O'Regan, Robert Yates, Sam Morrison, Suki Singh, Maura McHugh, David Wigram, Paul White, Paul Campbell, Elinor Perry-Smith, Harriet Barbir, Hilary Wright, Ashley Pharoah, James Moran, Simon Guerrier, Tom Hallett, Dan Turner, Samantha Moore, Eve Gutierrez, Michael Stack, Patricia Stack, Julie Stack-Horgan, Dragana Sliskovic, Fran Clydsdale, Richard Davidson, Jhan French, Kieran Hallahan, Carmel Hallahan, Kieran Spillane, Liana Del Giudice, Margaret Wiseman, Jason Arnopp, John Gradwell, Jeremy Lawson, James Henry, Jonathan Carr, Andrew Smith, Helen Smith, Steve Andrews, Cheryl White, Annabel Freeman, Tim Clague


Judy Potocki, Paul McIntyre, Nick Wilkinson, Gerry Hayes, Lucy Vee, Caroline Ferguson, Elena Fuller, Andy Davie, David Bishop, Lara Greenway, Stephen Gallagher, Ruth Fielding, Simon Winstone, Jacinta Duke, Tanuja Amarasuriya, Roland Moore, Jake Riddell, William Gallagher, Darren Goldsmith, Andy Coughlan, Allen O'Leary, Emilia di Girolamo, Asim Arshad, Berni Stack, Paul Draper, Paul Crilley, Terry Cafolla, Michelle Lipton, Lee Thomson


Robert Thorogood, Damian Trasler, Frank Arnot, Tom Williams, Matthew Gibbs, Chris Wright, Stephen Gomez, Isabel Tang, Michael Williams, David Margolis, Hannah Billingham, Julie Perez, Kieran Crowley, Tom Green, Trevor Percival, Joseph Corr, Jonathan Carr, Evangelia-Theodora Sarli, Alasdair Jarvie, Nicholas Horwood, Kevin Lehane, Martin Semple, Naomi Distill, JJ Keith, Juliette Lepercq, Rodney Clark, Dominic Carver, Stuart McLoughlin, Dan Morrissy, Lisa Barrass, Katy Segrove, Nick Ostler, Griff Phillips, Robin Kelly, Nigel Anderson, Adam W Brown, Gemma Rigg, Elizabeth Holliday, David Melkevik, Padraig Kenny, Matthew Pennell, Emma McKernan, Sally Brockway, Penny Nash, Donna Penny, Antonia Bloom, Dave Herman, Gary Bainbridge

HUGE THANKS TO EVERYONE! See you at Raindance.